Pro Wrestler Robbie Strauss on What It's Like to Compete On 'The Titan Games'

Scott Fishman
Preview Chris Haston/NBC

After an impressive finish on The Amazing Race in 2014, Robbie Strauss — known to pro-wrestling fans as Robbie E — returns to reality-show competition on The Titan Games. The new NBC winter series comes from the mind of its host, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and it features everyday people and elite athletes giving their all for a $100,000 grand prize.

Strauss received a Facebook message from casting agents who enjoyed the natural performer’s social media, including workout videos with his twins. The clips produced for Muscle & Fitness each week were to help others avoid the “dad bod.” Whether he knew it or not, the installments showcasing the grappler’s charisma and entertaining personality were a great audition. Strauss believes his background gave him a slight edge on the competition in regard to the atmosphere of the Titan arena.

“I didn’t know what to prepare for,” he said. “When it came to the actual filming though, the whole show is filmed in front of a live audience, a big audience. I’m used to working in front of an audience and cameras being on me, so that didn’t faze me at all.

“If anything, it gave me some extra energy and a pump. Whereas I know a lot of people were scared going into it at the thought of performing in front of all the people they were performing in front of.”

Even before stepping on to the set, the competitor felt he won, being proud of making it to air. During a recent Instagram post, Johnson revealed his team received almost 100,000 applications for Titan Games. Out of those a small fraction was chosen for final interviews and fitness combine. Strauss was among the select 64 audiences will see over the course of 10 episodes.

The Titan Games is the brainchild of host Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Vivian Zink/NBC)

“I know they are saying it was not one of but the most tried-out-for reality shows in history, which when you think about it makes sense because anything The Rock touches is gold,” he said. “He is the guy right now in the world…I already went into it thinking I won. The fact that this was out of nowhere and out of the blue, I was with some of the best athletes in the world. Some of the best athletes I’ve seen in my life.”

Going up against them, Strauss actually shocked himself at how well he did. The Jersey native was keeping up with the competition. Fans of the Impact Wrestling alum could potentially see the dedicated parent and husband in a new light — a more serious side.

“I admit I look the part more than I am the part. But I stepped it up and worked hard and did great,” Strauss said.

The “Dad Bod Destroyer” chatted briefly with the box office master of ceremonies. They bonded over their wrestling backgrounds and mutual acquaintances in the business.

“You go through the curtain when it’s your time. It’s like wrestling, where you are waiting behind there, and Rock is waiting right there with you,” Strauss said. “There wasn’t much interaction. His Iron Paradise gym was on the whole other side of the set, which sucked because I wanted to go in there.”

Around the same time as The Titan Games, Strauss attended a WWE tryout. The veteran prospect was blown away by the Performance Center in Orlando and the staff there.

“At 35 years old — 34, when I went — I was the oldest there. I was the smallest there,” he said.

“When you’re going back, there are a lot of untrained people there. Pro athletes that they bring in. When you’re doing the basics like rolls, running the ropes. I haven’t done that stuff, the basic way of doing it, in 18 years even though I regularly wrestle. So, it was relearning for me. Some of this fitness and cardio stuff are things I haven’t done in forever.

“I had to re-push myself. I left there with my head high just feeling good about myself, how hard I worked. I have no ego. I wrestled on TV for eight years. I wrestled all around the world. I have wrestled on six continents, over 20 countries. I have zero ego in wrestling as everyone is an equal. I enjoy everyone I was there with. It was really just a great time.”

Strauss hopes something comes of it. He left thinking decision-makers were happy, witnessing his promo work and a new motivational speaker like character.

“Time will tell. We’ll see, but I definitely think I left a great impression,” Strauss said. “And they left a great impression on me.”

Even though the free agent would want a call from WWE, he isn’t sleeping by the phone. Strauss is too busy as a stay-at-home dad and taking wrestling bookings around the world most Fridays through Sundays. He also hosts a successful weekly podcast called Why It Ended. After The Titan Games, Strauss would be open for another reality show competition.

“The one show I can’t do obviously is The Bachelor,” he said. “I’m kidding, because I’m married, but me and my wife love that show. That’s the only show we watch when it’s on every Monday night and every season. We are obsessed with The Bachelor. So, when Kenny King was on, it was hilarious to watch when you know who is on it. That was great.”

Strauss knows how important it is to stay in the conversation. His entrepreneur spirit is always looking for the next opportunity. Strauss is up for anything, which in 2018 has included getting chopped by Honey Boo Boo or standing in the ring against David Arquette.

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The winning gymnast works the sidelines of the kid version of the reality competition spin-off.

“When you’re not on TV it’s hard to stay relevant. The one thing I do credit myself with is I push to make that happen. It’s hard, but you have to keep your name out there. For being Robbie E, somewhat of a mid-card guy from TNA that hasn’t been on TV wrestling in a few years I think I’m doing pretty good job of it.”

The Titan Games, Thursday, January 3, 8/7c, NBC